During the weekend of May 18-20, students from the City University of New York (CUNY), who are also members of the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC), traveled to Chicago to take part in important and historic anti-imperialist gatherings.
On May 18, we participated as observers in the founding congress of Anakbayan-USA, the first overseas country-wide chapter of Anakbayan, a mass organization of youth in the Philippines with 20,000 members. Anakbayan organizes Filipino youth to struggle against US imperialism and for genuine national and social liberation. It is a component part of the Filipino movement for national democracy, made of workers, peasants, women, youth, students, and other social sectors. RSCC was honored to share the day with the local chapters of Anakbayan-USA from New York, New Jersey, Silicon Valley, San Diego, East Bay, Los Angeles, and Seattle, as well as the League of Filipino Students from San Francisco.
On May 19, we participated as observers in the founding assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles-USA (ILPS-USA), a global alliance of organizations, groups, and individuals promoting and developing anti-imperialist struggles worldwide. Congresswoman Emmi de Jesus of the GABRIELA Women’s Party in the Philippines, Renato Reyes Jr. of BAYAN and founding chair of Anakbayan-Philippines, and Fred Hampton Jr. were among some of the speakers who talked about the importance of the militant struggles of the people both domestically and abroad. More than 50 organizations were present to witness and participate in the assembly.
On the last day in Chicago, we joined the national liberation contingent in a massive march of 15,000 people against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, condemning NATO for its genocidal acts and imperialist war-mongering directed against the oppressed peoples of the world. The contingent included the newly-formed US chapters of Anakbayan and ILPS, as well as GABRIELA (Filipino women’s mass organization), BAYAN (Filipino multi-sectoral mass organization), the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the US Palestinian Community Network, and the National Boricua Human Rights Network, and others. The national flags of Palestine, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico flew high.
As students in New York City who come from working-class and oppressed-nationality backgrounds, members of RSCC understand the importance of fighting for the national liberation of our homelands. The majority of students in CUNY, the largest urban public university system in the US, come from nations that have been plundered by the US. Our lands have been devastated and the women have been raped by US imperialism. We know who the enemy is.
We believe in fighting for access to education and fighting for a relevant education that exposes the decadence of US imperialism and the suffering of our peoples. We seek to build and support national-in-form and multi-national organizations on CUNY campuses that organize against white supremacy and monopoly capitalism.
Where There is Oppression, There is Resistance
The struggle of the Filipino people against US imperialism is rooted historically in the Philippine Revolution against Spain in 1896, when the US intervened and colonized the island. Since then, the Philippines has been shackled by US imperialism.
The Filipino people continue to live in a backward economy, dictated by the demands of the US and backed by local ruling elements (landlords, compradors, and state officials). As a result, the Filipino people, especially women, are subjected to brutal living conditions, including sex tourism and the militarization of the land.
Moreover, because the US demands cheap labor, the Philippine state answers the call by exporting the flesh, bones, and labor power of the Filipino people. The majority of Filipino migrants are women. Many come to the US and live thousands of miles away from their families, in order to eke out a living and send back remittances.
But, the Filipino people are steadfast in the struggle against US imperialism. As revolutionary leader Mao Zedong once said, “Where there is oppression, there is resistance.” Centuries of fighting against the US and other colonizers have produced a vibrant movement for national democracy. This movement, in which Anakbayan, GABRIELA, and BAYAN are key elements, unites all the downtrodden sectors of Philippine society to struggle for and build a new world free from oppression and exploitation. Their work is a vital contribution to the international anti-imperialist struggle. All progressive youth and students should support movements for genuine democracy and fan the flames of struggle everywhere among the people.
Breaking With Old Ideas
Over the weekend, we had the opportunity to listen to important speakers and be present for several cultural performances. One of the speakers was Congresswoman Emmi de Jesus of the GABRIELA Women’s Party. De Jesus spoke about reproductive health issues and the use of population control policies to scapegoat women for the rising poverty in the Philippines. This diverts the people from struggling against the three basic problems: imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. Other speakers were Carlos Montes, a co-founder of the Brown Berets, and Fred Hampton Jr., the son of Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. Both spoke on the issue of state repression and violence against activists.
Women from Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) also gave a smoking cultural performance, in which they affirmed the need for a new society, especially for women. FiRE showed how women are at the forefront of the struggles of the urban poor—particularly the resistance to state efforts to demolish shantytowns. Many urban poor communities, where the people live in shantytowns, have faced violent evictions by the police. Women in these communities have been courageously rising up to defend their homes and families against displacement.
Later, youth and students performed many songs during the cultural night. Their songs elaborated on the importance of the peoples’ struggles. In order to break with the old ideas that serve the interests of the ruling classes, cultural performances that speak to the experiences of the most oppressed sectors of society are absolutely necessary.
Because Imperialism Knows No Boundaries…
The national-democratic movement of the Philippines educates, organizes, and mobilizes wherever there is a large concentration of Filipinos. The founding of Anakbayan-USA and ILPS-USA indicates that the national-democratic movement and the broader anti-imperialist movement is growing, and growing stronger. We ended the weekend together by marching with the largest, most militant, and most energetic contingent against the NATO summit. We want to congratulate Anakbayan-USA and ILPS-USA for sharing this celebratory weekend with us. We want to acknowledge Anakbayan-New York and Anakbayan-New Jersey in particular for treating our RSCC comrades as their own! Forward!